Period blood – what it says about your health

Period sanitary napkin-menstruaion-blood-colors

Last Updated September 13th, 2020

What is Period Blood?

Period blood is the menstruation blood that you bleed every month during your menstruation cycle. The menstruation generally begins at 12 to 13 years of age when you reach puberty. In a healthy body, it occurs every month in a normal cycle of 28 days or may vary from 21 to 35 days.

What happens during Menstruation?

Menstruation is the shedding of the endometrial wall of the uterus. Your monthly period cycle helps your body to prepare for a potential pregnancy. A normally healthy woman will start menstruating at the age of 12 or 13 until she reaches her menopause. Some young girls may even start their first periods at the age of 16 or 18. Periods may get delayed due to hormonal imbalances or other medical problems.

Periods are regulated by hormones. The hormones signal the body to prepare eggs for pregnancy and also thickens the uterus walls or the endometrium. This process is called ovulation.

During ovulation, the matured egg travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus to get fertilized. If it is fertilized by a sperm, it attaches itself to the uterine wall and will develop into a fetus. If unfertilized, it will get absorbed into the body. The rest of the thickened endometrial wall will shed itself and pass through the vagina in the form of period blood.

During your period, the endometrium wall will start breaking down and will flow down your cervix and you will bleed through your vagina. This menstrual flow is your period blood.

Some girls may experience slight discomfort, bodily changes, or lower abdominal pain before or during menstruation. As you may have noticed, period bleeding is quite different from normal bleeding which you experience when you have a slight cut in your body. This is because when you cut yourself, your blood clots immediately. This is part of the body’s defense mechanism. But in period blood, there will be no blood clotting as such.

Woman covers vagina during menstruation or periods

Menstrual clots are uncommon and are usually small in size. If you are getting visible large clots, you may consult a doctor immediately.

Your hormones control your bleeding. When your bleeding stops, the uterus lining will start building and prepare your body for the next menstruation cycle. Menstrual cycles generally last for 3 to 5 days or even may go up to 7 days in a month.

What does Period Blood consist of?

The period blood consists of blood, soft tissue, and the disintegrated uterine lining or endometrial wall shedding.

What does my period blood color indicate about my health?

The color of your period blood tells a lot about your health. The period blood color may vary from black to light red or orange and it is completely normal. The color generally changes during the beginning and the end of the menstruation cycle. However, your menstrual blood color may be indicative of other medical conditions. It should be noted that it is not just the color of the period blood but also the consistency, and the flow that indicates the quality of your menstrual bleeding.

Black Blood

You may get black blood during the beginning or end of your menstruation cycle. There is nothing to get alarmed. It may simply mean the old or residual blood that has not left your uterus, has oxidized, and has turned black.

In certain cases, black blood may also suggest a potential blockage in the vagina accompanied by itchiness around the vagina, swelling, foul smell, or difficulty in urination. If you are experiencing any such symptoms, contact your gynecologist immediately.

Brown Blood

Brown blood just like black period blood occurs during the beginning or end of your menstruation. It is old blood that has oxidized and has changed its hue from dark red to brown. It may also be suggestive of:

  • Lochia. This occurs after 4-6 weeks after childbirth. In the first 2 or 3 days, the flow is heavy and after that, the flow becomes dilute and changes its color to light brown or pinkish.
  • Pregnancy. Some women during the beginning of pregnancy may experience brown spotting. You should call your doctor if you experiencing any such symptoms.
  • Missed Miscarriage. This is a situation when a woman had a miscarriage but the fetus has not passed down the uterus. So, she does not have any active or bright red blood bleeding. The fetus will take another 3 or 4 weeks to pass down the uterus.

Dark Red Blood

Dark red period blood merely signifies that you have been sitting or resting for a while. So, the blood has stayed in the uterus for a while and has oxidized. It may also signify:

  • At the end of your period. When your period ends, the blood may turn dark red.
  • Lochia. After delivering a baby, women may experience the lochia blood for the first 3 days along with occasional clotting. The flow will change in color after a few days. Women who had a caesarian section may experience heavy flow during the first day after their surgery.

Bright Red Blood

Bright red blood indicates normal bleeding and is fresh blood and occurs when your period starts. It may continue doing so until the end of your menstrual cycle. However, bright red blood may also be suggestive of:

Sanitary napkin with red colored feather
  • An Infection. If you are experiencing bright red bleeding even before your period has started, you may probably have contacted STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) like chlamydia or gonorrhea.
  • Uterine Wall Growths. You may also get bright red blood if there is any polyp or growth on the uterine wall.
  • Cervical Cancer. Symptoms of cervical cancer include bleeding, vaginal discharge, long periods, pain in the back or pelvis, or weight loss.
  • Pregnancy. In the initial stage of pregnancy, women may experience bright red blood spotting. The symptom may persist during the whole pregnancy.
  • Miscarriage. Bleeding may indicate a possible miscarriage and one must consult a doctor immediately.
  • Sexual Intercourse. Women may bleed bright red blood during sexual intercourse.

Pink Period Blood

Pink period blood generally occurs during the beginning of your period or in the end. This occurs when the period blood has become thin and has mixed with the cervical fluid. You may also get pink blood due to:

  • Hormonal Changes. This generally occurs if you are taking birth control pills. The estrogen levels may go down and your period blood may be lighter in hue.
  • Sexual Intercourse. During sexual intercourse, there may be a tear in the vaginal walls and you may get pink discharge or spotting.
  • Anemia. Low hemoglobin or iron levels in the blood may result in pink blood during menstruation.
  • Miscarriage. Heavy pink bleeding along with tissues and severe abdominal cramps may indicate a possible miscarriage. You may contact your obstetrician immediately.
  • Lochia. Lochia blood after childbirth may be pink in color.
  • Low Estrogen Levels. You may get pink period blood or spotting if your estrogen levels are low. This may also happen during perimenopause (time before menopause).

Orange Period Blood

When your menstrual blood mixes with the cervical fluid, it may turn orange in color. It may also signify:

  • Implantation. You may experience orange spotting around 10-14 days after the implantation of the ovum in the uterine wall. Implantation planting, however, can be of different colors.
  • Infection. The orange period blood may also indicate a sexually transmitted disease or other bacterial infections like trichomoniasis or bacterial vaginosis. You will get other symptoms like itching, smelly vaginal discharge, and discomfort around the vaginal area.

Gray Blood

Gray blood is an indication that something is wrong with your body. You must immediately consult a doctor. Gray blood indicates:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis. If you are getting gray blood with foul-smelling vaginal discharge, itching or discomfort in the vagina, pain or burning sensation while urinating, you may have bacterial vaginosis.
  • Miscarriage. Gray blood along with clots during pregnancy or early pregnancy may suggest a possible miscarriage. Consult your doctor immediately.

Is it normal to have different period blood colors?

Yes, the period blood flow and color may change throughout your life. It may change during the beginning or end of your period. The color also changes depending on the heaviness of your menstrual flow.

You may get heavy flow in the beginning and lighter flows at the end of your menstrual cycle. Colors may also vary from light red to dark brown and it is normal. However, as explained above, if you are experiencing blood clots or gray period blood, or any other unusual symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor.

Period Blood Clots

During menstruation, the uterine wall begins to disintegrate and you start bleeding through the exposed blood vessels in the uterus. To help the process of menstruation, your body produces anticoagulants so that the blood and the soft tissue can pass down the cervix and the vagina more easily. Sometimes, the blood flow is more than the anticoagulants and you may notice blood clots.

The blood clots that you see are also disintegrated pieces of tissue or endometrial cells that look like a clump or clot. If your menstrual flow is heavy, you will get larger blood clots. The blood clots are usually bright red because they are flowing down fast and do not have time to oxidize. This is a reason why you experience intense cramping or pain during heavy menstrual flow. The cervix has to widen or dilate more to pass down the heavy flow of blood.

Woman has abdominal cramps during periods. Takes pain pills

Black period clots are common during the beginning of your menstrual cycle. If you are experiencing unusually big or frequent blood clots during menstruation, there may be other underlying medical conditions like:

  • Endometriosis. This is a condition when the endometrial lining of the uterus has grown outside the uterus into the fallopian tube or the ovaries.
  • Fibroids. They are noncancerous and quite common among women and one of the leading reasons for infertility.
  • Hormonal problems like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), perimenopause, hypothyroidism, menopause, etc.
  • Cancer of the cervix.
  • Miscarriage. If you are experiencing blood clots during pregnancy, it probably indicates a possible miscarriage.

Period Blood Consistency

The period blood consistency may vary throughout your menstruation cycle. It also gives an idea of whether you have any health problems or not.

Thick Period Blood

During heavy periods, the consistency is thick with clumps or clots. However, blood clots should not be more than the size of a quarter. Big blood clots generally indicate uterine fibroid formations.

Watery and Light Period Blood

Thin and watery periods are generally common in the first and last day of your menstrual cycle. But very light menstrual flow may be indicative of:

  • Low estrogen levels. This may be due to several reasons such as lack of nutrition, overexertion, hypopituitarism (under-active pituitary gland), etc.
  • Birth control pills. If you are on birth control pills, you probably will get lighter periods.
  • Menopause. If you are near the age of menopause or perimenopause, you may experience lighter or watery periods.
  • Lack of hemoglobin. Your period consistency may be thin and light pink due to a lack of hemoglobin in the blood.
  • Tumor of the fallopian tube or the ovary.

Sticky and Mucus-filled Period

You may experience a sticky or mucus-filled period. This happens when the period blood gets mixed up with the mucus of the cervical wall. During ovulation, the body produces more mucus to help the sperm reach the egg. This mucus may get mixed up with the period blood during the menstruation cycle. This is normal. But if you think you are getting too much mucus in your menstrual blood, please visit a doctor immediately.

 

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